Building a Solid Routine for the School Year


Simple Tools for Parents and Teachers

Pool-time, nature hikes, playgrounds and vacations fill most children’s summers, if they are lucky as most of us when we were children! So, it would be difficult for them to transition back to school with routines, sitting down in class, and hearing lectures.

How to Support Children

Then how can teachers and parents support their children as they transition back into the school year while making it fun for everyone? Routines! Routines are familiar, consistent, stable, predictable and can lead to opportunities for success for everyone. There can even be flexibility and spontaneity within routines, such as dance breaks, silly joke time and exercise. “The more kids have ownership in creating a routine for themselves and setting expectations, the more likely they are to follow it,” says Kelly Vaillancourt Strobach, National Association of School Psychologists Director of Government Relations.


In fact, researchers who examined long-term data conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics found that routines were linked to an increase in social-emotional skills. According to Dr. Elisa Muniz, the study’s lead author, there is scientific evidence that children who possess strong social-emotional skills are more likely to succeed in school.

5 Simple Tools

So, what will be the foundation for your classroom and home? Although getting back into a school routine can be a challenge us parents should start early to ease back into the school year. Below are 5 ways parents and teachers can support children as they transition back to school.


  1. Regular Meals. Have regular meals as a family when possible that align with the school schedule. Research shows that children who eat regular family dinners consume more fruits and vegetables. Teens who have regular family meals are also more likely to eat healthy when they live on their own.
  2. All the Fun. Put a positive spin on going back to school. Talk about the fun field trips and activities your child will do and friends your children will see. When us adults model a positive attitude, children are more likely to follow suit.
  3. Downtime. Have some downtime without trips planned right before school starts. Utilize the last couple weeks before school starts to get back on a regular sleep schedule and attend any back-to-school events to get to know your child’s teacher and maybe even some new friends.
  4. Schedules. Keep bath, bedtime and screen-time schedules.
    • If necessary, start your child’s bedtime routine 15 minutes earlier every night and wake him or her up about 15 minutes earlier in the morning. This will ensure that when school starts your child is able to get the amount of sleep needed.
    • With regard to screen-time, there is scientific data that shows light promotes wakefulness and disrupts sleep cycles, and yes this includes light from electronics! So, tablets and other electronics should be shut off at least one hour before bedtime. Also, all electronics, including televisions, should be out of bedrooms. According to the National Sleep Foundation, Photoreceptors in the retina sense light, signaling our brain which can change your circadian rhythms. This means the power of light in tablets and smartphones can often be confused with the sun.
  5. Playdates. Arrange playdates with friends from school at the beginning of the school year, or even better, before school starts. This will ease the nerves of your sweetie seeing familiar faces in the classroom and connecting.


  1. Take is easy. Take it easy on yourself! I’m sure you have wonderful ideas for school, but do not get burned out. Ease into some of the ideas and visions you have. Implement something new one time per month rather than all at once!
  2. Connect. Remember that the most important part of your job is connecting with your students and developing relationships. Establishing positive relationships is more important than amazing Pinterest bulletin board ideas. The kids want to connect with you!
  3. First Few Weeks. Allow time the first few weeks to get to know each other and establish a routine. Carve out time for all children to share something about themselves so each child feels a sense of belonging in the classroom.
  4. Guidelines. As a class, come up with 3 to 5 guidelines together on how to be respectful in the classroom. When students come up with it together, have each student sign the guidelines as a contract. As the year progresses ask, “I’m wondering if we are following our classroom guidelines” or “It appears we need to review our classroom guidelines again.”
  5. Routines and Non-negotiables. Come up with a routine as a class. Some items are non-negotiable. There will be a schedule that the students obviously need to abide by, but students should also have downtime to play with STEM building materials, tell silly jokes, or engage in team building activities. Allow students input into the structure of the negotiable parts of the routine. Obviously, there will be non-negotiables. Such as a student might say, “Well, we don’t want time for math.” It’s ok to say, “You all get to make lots of decisions in this classroom. Math is a non-negotiable. If you choose not to participate that is up to you. Of course, we would love for you to participate with us.”

You are Amazing

Thank you to all the wonderful teachers and parents for all that you do for our children. Their physical growth, mental growth, emotional growth as well as the love that expands their hearts every day depend on you and your support. You do such important work that is appreciated. Looking forward to a wonderful school year!


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Morgan Metcalf
Morgan Metcalf has lived in Ohio her entire life. She grew up near Cleveland where she met her husband who serenaded her with 1980s Power Ballads. Fortunately, her husband convinced her to move to Columbus 12 years ago. She is often found chasing after her two rambunctious boys and determined little girl at playgrounds, at home, the grocery store… you get the idea. Because she loves chasing, in her free time you can often find Morgan running or working out to keep up with her active children and then falling asleep reading parenting books. She is humbled every day by the lessons her three children teach her. Morgan is passionate about encouraging and empowering parents and teachers in Positive Discipline. It has changed her relationships with her children in a positive direction. She is a licensed school psychologist and a certified Positive Discipline Educator with The Power of Positive Solutions. She facilitates trainings and classes for parents, teachers, and administrators.